Nokia Becomes Microsoft Mobile: A walk down memory lane

Almost 150 years ago, mining engineer Fredrik Idestam set up a wood pulp mill in south-west Finland, and six years later he opened a second mill on the banks of the Nokianvirta river, giving him the idea to call his company Nokia.

 

Since then, Nokia has tried its hand at everything from generating electricity, to making Wellington boots, tyres, and of course mobile phones.

 

The company may have been caught off-guard by the smartphone revolution in 2007, but along the way the company helped to pioneer much of the technology we take for granted in the phones of today. But now those days are behind it, as Microsoft’s £4.7bn deal to purchase Nokia’s phone- and tablet-making business has been completed.

 

Microsoft has bought the right to use the Lumia and Asha names. Put simply, this means we will never see a Nokia mobile phone ever again.

 

To mark this day, we’ve looked at some of Nokia’s most important phones.

 

Nokia 1011: In the beginning

Launched in 1992 and named after the date it was announced, the 1011 is credited as starting the ‘candy bar’ design of mobile phone, and despite measuring 45mm thick (an iPhone 5s is 7.9mm) and weighing almost half a kilogram, the 1011 is where the mobile phone as we know it was born.

 

The Nokia 1011 could make and receive calls, send text messages, store up to 99 phone numbers in its address book and... well, that was about it.

 

Following the launch of the 1011, Nokia’s rubber, cable and consumer electronics divisions were gradually sold off.

 

The 1011 was on sale for two years until 1994, when it was replaced by the 2110.

 

Nokia 2110

 

With the Nokia 2110 series the company introduced what has become one of the most famous sounds in the world - the Nokia ringtone.

 

Based on Gran Vals, a classical guitar piece composed by Francisco Tarrega in the 10th century, the ringtone has been the default alert on all Nokias since, although with the introduction of polyphonic ringtones at the start of the last decade, it has undergone some changes.

 

Nokia had hoped to sell 400,000 units of the 2110 series, but went on to sell more than 20 million.

 

It was also in 1994 that the world’s first satellite call was made, using a Nokia GSM handset.

 

Nokia 6110 and Snake

 

In 1997 Nokia launched the 6110, the world’s first mobile phone to come with a game - Snake.

 

First appearing in arcade games of the 1970s, Snake involved little more than directing a snake around the screen, eating food, which caused it to grow. The game was lost if the snake ran into itself, a possibility that became more likely and eventually inevitable the larger the creature grew.

 

The 6110 also featured an infrared port, so two users could join their phones together and have a game of two-player Snake. There were also two more games, called Memory and Logic.

 

The phone could also be used as a pager and now featured a calculator, clock and calendar.

 

The 6110 had a 900mAh battery that could offer up to 200 hours of talk time, just 25 less than what an iPhone 5s can manage with its 1440mAh battery, demonstrating how far battery technology has come, given the iPhone’s much larger, colour screen, GPS and mobile internet connection.

 

Nokia 7110 and WAP browser

As the millenium drew to a close, the mobile phone took another leap forwards, and again it was Nokia who instigated it, with the launch of the 7110 in February 1999 - the first mobile phone to have a WAP browser for accessing the internet.

 

The 7110 was also the first mobile phone to run the Series 40 operating system, which is still used today by Nokia’s (now Microsoft’s) Asha range of feature phones aimed at the developing world.

 

Having a monochrome display with a resolution of 96 x 65, the 7110 featured a spring-loaded panel that slide down to reveal the keypad, similar to that of a customised version of the older Nokia 8110 that was used in The Matrix (1999).

 

Nokia 3310, Snake 2 and interchangeable covers

Released in the fourth quarter of 2000, the Nokia 3310 has become something of a milestone in the history of the mobile phone, with its interchangeable covers that led to hundreds, if not thousands, of custom covers developed to make the phone as unique as the owner wanted.

 

We didn’t see much of the early 2000s, due to having our eyes and thumbs glued to the Nokia 3310, either texting, playing Snake 2 or fitting yet another new cover - and trying to align the rubber numberpad into place.

 

At 22mm, the 3310 was more than twice the thickness of the new Lumia 920 - a phone considered to be on the large side today - but it was clear that mobile phones were getting smaller, lighter and packing more features than ever.

 

At 133g, the 3310 was exactly the same weight as the Samsung Galaxy S3, and lightyears ahead of the half-kilo Nokia 1011.

 

With four games, a calculator, stopwatch, and the ability to send text messages up to 459 characters in length (three times longer than previously possible), the 3310 is one of the most memorable phones of its generation.

 

Nokia 8310

As the mobile phone market grew, so did the desire from consumers for a premium, high-end model that was both incredibly small and attractive.

 

Launched in 2001, the Nokia 8310 set out to satisfy these demands, with a design that was far smaller than any phone that had gone before it and a distinctive, semi-transparent front which was illuminated from behind the keypad.

 

Priced at £400 SIM-free and weighing just 84g, Nokia’s 8310 was the iPhone of its day.

 

Features included an integrated FM radio, four games (including Snake 2 and Snowboarding), voice commands, changeable covers, WAP internet access and a memory large enough for 500 contacts.

 

Measuring just 97mm x 43mm, the 8310 marks the smallest mobile phones ever got, before the need for larger screens and increased battery life overtook the desire for something that could almost be tucked into your wallet.

 

Nokia 6650 and N-Gage

2003 was a busy year for Nokia. As colour screens and polyphonic ringtones became all the range, 3G was just getting started.

 

To make use of the new, faster connection to the mobile internet, the Nokia 6650 was the world’s first 3G phone, supporting the W-CDMA 2100 MHz band.

 

The 6650 had a colour screen, VGA quality rear camera, an external antenna, and could support Java ME applications.

 

Later that year, in October 2003, Nokia attempted to tap into the mobile gaming market - dominated by Nintendo Game Boy Advance - with the N-Gage, a mobile phone that could play feature games like Tomb Raider, Call of Duty, Fifa Football and Colin McRae Rally.

 

Hoping to rival the Game Boy, the N-Gage proved to be unsuccessful, partly because its phone keypad buttons did not lend themselves well to gaming, and when used as a phone the N-Gage was too large and a strange shape, with some reviewers saying it resembled a taco.

 

In four years Nokia managed to sell just three million N-Gage phones worldwide and the brand name went on to be used for Nokia’s range of smartphone games, before being dropped entirely at the end of 2010.

 

Nokia N95

Billed as one of the first true smartphones, the Nokia N95 featured a 2.6-inch colour screen with a resolution of 240x320, two way sliding mechanism, a 5-megapixel camera, and turn-by-turn driving directions.

 

Released in 2007, the N95 ran the Symbian v9.2 operating system that included a personal media player and the ability to download podcasts over its 3G connection - although online music stores for phones were still a couple of years away.

 

Arriving just before the iPhone, the N95 was powered by a 332MHz processor with 160MB of RAM, a front-facing camera for video calls and later models came with an impressive 8GB of internal storage; the N95 had a SIM-free price of just over £300.

 

A year later, in 2008, Nokia commanded 80 percent of the global mobile phone market and the company accounted for 30 percent of Finland’s GDP - but the tide was about to turn.

 

Nokia Lumia 800

 

Announced on 26 October, 2011, the Lumia 800 was the first phone to use Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system.

 

With its brightly coloured polycarbonate shell and equally colourful operating system, this was Nokia’s answer to the Apple iPhone and Google’s Android system.

 

The Lumia 800 was powered by a 1.4GHz single-core processor with 512MB of RAM and 16GB of internal flash storage.

 

Slightly larger than the iPhone, the Lumia 800 had a 3.7-inch touchscreen with a resolution of 480 x 800 and a pixel density of 252 per inch.

 

The phone also had an 8-megapixel camera with dual-LED flash, 720p HD video recording, and autofocus and Carl Zeiss optics.

 

Nokia Lumia 920

 

With a 4.5-inch high definition screen and 8.7-megapixel camera with 'floating lens' technology, the Lumia 920 was Nokia's flagship Windows Phone 8 device.

 

Borrowing the same brightly coloured plastic design from previous Lumias, the 920 was powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core SnapDragon processor and 1GB of RAM.

 

The Lumia 920's party trick was its camera with ‘floating lens’ technology, which helped to significantly cut down on motion blur and help to stabilise the camera.

 

This made for sharper photos, but also helped to improve low light performance, as the shutter could be kept open for longer, taking in more light, without images becoming blurry.

 

Nokia Lumia 930

Successor to the 920 and the last phone to be announced by Nokia, the Lumia 930 is due to go on sale in June, but it is unlikely to use the Nokia name. We’re yet to see what Microsoft will call its phone division, but at least the Lumia name is expected to remain intact.

 

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